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No Middle Ground in Afghanistan

September 14, 2009

Glad to see those who supported the Surge into Iraq, now advocating a similar winning strategy for Afghanistan. Everyone once said the struggle against the Taliban and Al Qaeda there was the crucial fight in the War on Terror, but many are now calling for withdrawal. From the Wall Street Journal here are Senators Lindsey Graham, Joe Lieberman, and John McCain who declare Only Decisive Force Can Prevail in Afghanistan:

We went to war there because the 9/11 attacks were a direct consequence of the safe haven given to al Qaeda in that country under the Taliban. We remain at war because a resurgent Taliban, still allied with al Qaeda, is trying to restore its brutal regime and re-establish that country as a terrorist safe haven.

It remains a clear, vital national interest of the United States to prevent this from happening. Yet an increasing number of commentators, including some of the very same individuals who opposed the surge in Iraq and called for withdrawal there, now declare Afghanistan essentially unwinnable. Had their view prevailed with respect to Iraq in 2006 and 2007, the consequences of our failure there would have been catastrophic.

The Senators go on to say we have all the tools in place for victory. We now need the will to prevail:

Our mistakes are infuriating, but they are also reversible. We traveled to Afghanistan nine months ago and again last month. In the intervening time, a significant shift in our strategic leadership and focus has taken place there.

We have an exceptional new commander on the ground, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who has begun a top-to-bottom overhaul of all aspects of our war policy and put forward a dramatically new civil-military strategy that clearly identifies failed policies and prioritizes the proven principles of counterinsurgency, including protecting civilians, creating legitimate and effective governance, and boosting economic development. With Gen. McChrystal, together with a new ambassador and a new deputy commander, we believe we now have the team on the ground that can win this war.

Some often point to history, how the Afghan has broke  many Empires, from Russia to Britain. Still if we don’t give it all we’ve got, one last mighty effort as General Petraeus did in Iraq, we only have ourselves to blame, not history!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 15, 2009 3:30 pm

    Here is someone else, Kevin, of the same opinion, that we are losing in the Afghan:

    Bin Laden calls Barack Obama ‘powerless’ in Afghan war

  2. KevinD permalink
    September 15, 2009 11:12 am

    Well, here are some more opinions on the internet:

    http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/09/14/withdrawal_without_winning

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n13/stew01_.html

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/09/nation-building-at-the-barrel/

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/09/krulak-on-will/

    http://www.newshoggers.com/blog/afpak/

    I’ll take the opinion of any of these people over the trio of Neocon warmonger Senators who have been consistently wrong about everything

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    September 14, 2009 4:22 pm

    Kevin, sorry to disappoint you but that is why I love the INTERNET as apposed to the MSM. You can voice your own opinion!

    Mark, you may be right about Afghanistan but considering this is where Al Qaeda staged the 9/11 attacks makes it all the more crucial we win here. I am not sure I agree that different standards of COIN apply for different nations. History seems to bear out that most of the fundamentals of defeating an insurgency remain basically the same. We are trying to do it differently so far in the Afghan (with many saying we don’t need a Surge of troops). Hence the reason we are failing there.

  4. Mark permalink
    September 14, 2009 4:11 pm

    You don’t have to support both to be consistent.

    I supported the Iraq Surge because Iraq is a reasonably educated, urban, modern country. If rebuilt it would be a valuable ally/client state. And we have a strategic interest in a stable oil supply.

    None of those apply to Afghanistan. A-stan itself is worthless. There’s nothing there worth fighting over. Our strategic interest lies in Pakistan and keeping the lid on the Paki nukes as best we can. Does that require a heavy troop presence in A-stan? I don’t think so.

    There are too many failed Islamic states for us to do proper COIN in all of them. Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, etc, etc. We simply don’t have the manpower

    It’s best to have smaller, lighter troop levels that can do raids on any Al Queda/Taliban types if they mass or threaten us. Otherwise, let some warlord run their useless countries with the deal that as long as he keeps the peace, we’ll let him live. If the warlord lets terrorists attack us, then we replace him with another warlord.

    That strategy is affordable. A heavy COIN strategy for all of the Islamic failed states is unaffordable even for America.

  5. KevinD permalink
    September 14, 2009 3:07 pm

    You’ve lost me. I thought you had a interesting blog here for a while, but if you’re now advocating doubling down in Af-Pak based on the opinions of The Three Stooges and the Moonie Times, you cannot be taken seriously. We have “Victory” in Iraq now, really? Yikes.

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